Write a memoir.

I like listening to podcasts. One of my favorites is the Tim Ferriss Show. In one episode I listened to, Ferriss was interviewing Richard Branson. Branson mentioned that every person should write a memoir. I made a note of this. This has stuck with me.

Both of my biological grandfathers died before I was born. I don’t know a lot about them. A memoir from either of them would have been amazing to read.

I have an Irish name because my dad thought we were primarily Irish. My grandpa on his side gave all of his kids, my aunts and uncles, Irish names because he thought they were primarily Irish. I recently got my DNA results back from Ancestry and it turns out I’m about half English/Welch. A third French. A tenth Irish/Scottish. Five percent Norwegian and five percent German.

Writing a memoir. Something to consider for your family.

Why You Can Pay Me In Bitcoin

Here at Ryan Watkins Photography I want to make everything as clear, straightforward, and easy as possible. This is why I put my prices on my website. I have no hidden fees. No minimum orders. You don’t have to meet with me in person to order prints. You can order prints from anywhere and have them shipped to your house. This is also why you can pay me in Bitcoin. I try to make the payment process as easy as possible. Via my invoices people can pay via bank transfer, debit, or credit card. I also accept cash or check. I’ve occasionally had clients pay via paypal or the cash app because they prefered that method, even though it requires a bit more work on my end. Also I’m optimistic about the possibilities of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. Feel free to pay for your session using Bitcoin.

The Importance of Structure and Systems

One of the best business books I have read is the E-Myth Revisited. In the E-Myth Revisited author Michael Gerber talks about why most businesses fail. Many people assume that if they are good at a technical task they will be good at running a business which does that technical task. This isn’t the case. One must also know how to run a business. One of the keys to running a successful business is making it repeatable and setting internal systems structures for how things get done. Your business should ideally be able to run without you. If the internal systems are followed. Since reading this book I’ve been spending a ton of time working “on my business” as Gerber puts it. I have been developing the internal processes at Ryan Watkins Photography for how I go about doing every task in the business. I am constantly tweaking how I do these processes for maximum efficiency and best client experience. I would highly recommend fellow entrepreneurs check out The E-Myth Revisited.

The Importance of Pre-Session Consultations

One of the most important parts of any wedding or portrait shoot is the pre-session consultation. During the pre-session consultation we meet ideally in person, but if the client lives far away via skype or facetime, to discuss the session or wedding. By meeting prior and going thru my detailed worksheets both the client and I get on the same page. I figure out what they are looking for and how we can achieve it. This helps prevent many issues from happening during the shoot or wedding. Nearly any shoot I have where issues have arised it was due to a lack of planning or lack of communication. This is why I always do a consultation before a shoot or wedding.

People You Should Know: George Eastman

“What we do during our working hours determines what we have; what we do in our leisure hours determines what we are.”—George Eastman

The photography industry would not exist as we know it if it weren’t for entrepreneur George Eastman. For a primer on the life of George Eastman check out this article from FEE.


My Favorite Images From My First Decade Of Photography

I first took an interest in photography back in 2008. The first photo I took I was really happy with was in 2009. I had a hard drive crash and much of my early work was lost. My first magazine publication in 2010. I thought it would be cool to look back over my work over the last decade. This helps me see what areas I grown and regressed as a photographer. Here are my favorite images since 2009 and little bit of there back stories.  

Raccoon, Grand Rapids, Michigan 2009

This was the first image I was really happy with. After taking this photo I decided I wanted to become a professional photographer. For the full story click here.

Nuthatch, Clare, Michigan 2010

This nuthatch hanging from my parent’s bird feeder would go on to be published in Audubon, Nature’s Best Photography, and The World of Photography Bookazine. For the full story click here.

Mountain, Field, British Columbia, Canada 2011

This mountain peak photographed on the border of British Columbia and Alberta, Canada. It would later be published in Outdoor Photographer Magazine. For the full story click here.

Bryana, Turners Falls, Massachusetts 2013

This studio portrait of model Bryanna was photographed while I was a student at the Hallmark Institute of Photography in Turners Falls, Massachusetts. For the full story click here.

Eli and Edythe Broad Art Building, East Lansing, Michigan 2013

This architectural image was photographed while I was home on spring break during my studies at the Hallmark Institute of Photography. It was later used in catalogs promoting the school.

Feona, Bernardston, Massachusetts 2013

This pet portrait was shot during my studies at the Hallmark Institute of Photography. For the full story click here.

Doc, Holyoake, Massachusetts 2013

This portrait of a doctor in Holyoake, Massachusetts was shot during my studies at the Hallmark Institute of Photography. I used a color temperature orange gel on my flash and cool white balance to make the doctor stand out from the background.

Ciara, Clare, Michigan 2013

This portrait of Ciara was shot in downtown Clare, Michigan at night. I used off camera flash to mimic the street light.

Ian, Harrison, Michigan 2013

This image of welder and art teacher Ian was photographed in Harrison, Michigan for the 515 Gallery. For the full story click here.

Church of Daniel’s Band Pine Branch, Midland, Michigan 2014

This image was commissioned by the Church of Daniel’s Band during the winter in 2014. For the full story click here.

Jason and Rachael, Grand Haven, Michigan 2014

This engagement session was done on the ice on Lake Michigan in Grand Haven during sunset.

Chickadee, Clare, Michigan 2015

This image was photographed on an early winter morning in 2015. For the full story click here.

Amish. Clare, Michigan 2017

This image was photographed on a foggy winter morning in early 2017. For the full story click here.

Chelsea and Dayna, Ann Arbor, Michigan 2017

This image of models Chelsea and Dayna next to a beautiful church door was photographed in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Beaverton Fireworks, Beaverton, Michigan 2017

This image of the 2017 Beaverton fireworks was shot with a fisheye lens while training my second shooter Nikki Robinson.

Matt and Chelsea, Ann Arbor, Michigan 2017

This engagement portrait was shot of Matt and Chelsea in Ann Arbor, Michigan during golden hour.

Todd and Kayla, Midland, Michigan 2017

This image of Todd and Kayla was shot at one of my most frequented locations Dow Gardens in Midland, Michigan. This was taken just outside the gardens after we were kicked out.

Sam Smoke Bombs, Clare, Michigan 2018

This image was photographed of my of favorite models Sam while setting off purple smoke bombs. This image was later used as my entry into Art Walk Central in Mt Pleasant, Michigan.

Lisa, Charlevoix, Michigan 2018

This image of model Lisa was photographed in one of my favorite cities in northern Michigan, Charlevoix. The subtle gesture and soft natural light make this image one of my favorites.

Stark Family, Clare, Michigan 2018

The Starks have been repeat clients of mine since 2017. This image of them and there several dogs remains one of my favorite family portraits.

Shane and Chelsea, Midland, Michigan 2018

This engagement session of Shane and Chelsea was taken on one of the busiest days of my career at one of my most frequented locations Dow Gardens in Midland, Mi. The beautiful backlight and expression make this image one of my favorites.

More Than A Photo. An Experience.

When you hire a photographer you are getting more than a photo. You are getting an experience.

The way your photographer helps you plan, interacts with you and your family, and helps make sure everything goes right on your wedding day are just as important as the final images themselves.

Ultimately your wedding day is about you. Your family. Your friends. Not the photographer. The photographer and other vendors are there to make sure everything goes as planned on your big day.

When I sit down with potential wedding clients the most important thing I ask them is what is most important for them on their wedding day. This gives me direction for how I will shoot the wedding. For some it is all about their families coming together. For others who come from broken families they wanted a big emphasis on photos of their friends. Others have wanted a big emphasis on DIY details or places that were sentimental to them. Instead of shooting what I want for my portfolio or think will win be accolates by other photographers I focus on what my clients want. This is what ultimately matters.

During the wedding I always try to help out anyway I can. I have helped the guys getting ready fold their pocket squares, tie ties, and helped the florists get the boutonnieres to the right location. During the ceremony I want to be as inconspicuous as possible. I never want to get in-between the viewers and the bride and groom. I try to memorize as many names before hand so the group shots go smoothly. Before I leave the reception I also check to make sure there aren’t any other photos the bride and groom wants. Usually I end up staying a little over my contractual eight hours to make sure the clients get everything they want.

Your photographer is there to make your day go as best it can and get beautiful photos you will cherish along the way. The wedding day isn’t about them. They aren’t the star of the show. You are.

How To Be A Good Photography Client

Over the last ten years of doing photography I’ve gotten to work with a variety of clients. One way to guarantee a good experience with your photographer is to be a good client. Here are a handful of qualities that make a great photography client.

Showing up on time is always a plus. When planning a shoot during a pre-session consultation your photographer will know when the lighting will be best. Showing up thirty minutes, forty five minutes, or an hour late can result in completely different lighting conditions making the final images look entirely different than what was planned.

Be honest up front. If you don’t like a photo tell them during the shoot. If there is another photo you want tell them during the shoot. Even better discuss this before hand during the pre-session consultation. It ends up being a huge waste of both the client and photographers time to do reshoots.

Pay them! Yes this seems obvious but it happens. I had a few clients last year who didn’t see the need to pay. Please pay your photographers. They need to eat to. Also don’t ask them to do everything for free.  

Share their photos on social media. A ton of clients of mine come from people seeing the images I’ve taken on their friends Facebook and Instagram feeds. Helping your photographer get more work is a great way to show how much you enjoyed your session.

Leave positive reviews on social media. As someone who gets a lot of clients from out of state reviews are incredibly important. If you had a positive experience let others know about it.

Follow their newsletters and social media accounts. This is a great way to stay informed with what they are up to and help support their business.

Give referrals. Have a friend who wants a portrait or wedding photographed? Let them know about me. Unless your friend is annoying in which please send them to my competition.

How I Guarantee You’ll Have Copies Of Your Images For Years To Come

Here at Ryan Watkins Photography I go to extra lengths to make sure you will have copies of your images for years to come. How do I go about this? First of all I always shoot with two cards in my camera. As soon as I take an image a copy is made on a second card within my camera. If a card fails I already have a backup. After the wedding or session I transfer the images onto an external hard drive. Then I backup that drive to another identical external hard drive. The identical drive is kept in a locked fire and waterproof case. Once the retouching is finished I upload the images to a private online gallery. Any image sent to a client never gets deleted from the hard drive nor the private gallery. Once the wedding or session is finished there will be three copies of the finished images on two hard drives and one online copy. This process ensures that no matter what happens I have a copy of your images for years to come.